Stars and Strikes Entertainment Centers use mystery shop data to keep consumer confidence high

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stars and Strikes, a family-owned and operated chain of family entertainment centers in the southeast United States, wanted to reassure guests of the high cleanliness standards kept at each of their 14 facilities.  When the Coronavirus outbreak made its initial appearance in the United States, management immediately posted on their website what their plan was while they continued operations:

During a time when nearly every company was posting notices on their websites and sending out emails to their customers, this notice stood out from the rest.  They expressed their commitment to high cleanliness standards, explained their procedures and then took it a step further by using data to stress that their high standards were nothing new.  This statement illustrates that difference:

In 2019, Stars and Strikes averaged over 95% cleanliness rating in our secret shopper evaluations. This was one of our highest rated areas of the company.

Stars and Strikes has regularly received mystery shops from Amusement Advantage since 2015, ranging from two to four shops per month at each location.  Their locations have nearly doubled since beginning the program, and the amount of mystery shops has grown proportionally.  Stars and Strikes and Amusement Advantage have partnered closely to customize multiple types of evaluation; this includes visits during standard operating times, peak times on weekends, and birthday parties.  When Stars and Strikes opened multiple Escapology franchises, Amusement Advantage created a custom evaluation for the escape rooms

Mystery shopping evaluations are an excellent tool for both qualitative and quantitative measurements of your facility’s standards, and the only measurement tool that can provide guest experience insights down to the granular level.  For instance, no other market research tool can quantify, providing specific details as to how well restroom supplies are stocked, how frequent janitorial staff are visibly cleaning, or if trash cans are regularly overflowing.

Cleanliness is just one of the many metrics that mystery shop data provides.  Operators like Stars and Strikes are also able to keep their finger on the pulse of these other crucial areas of their operations:

  • Guest Experience
  • Sales Effectiveness
  • Operational Efficiency
  • Facility Conditions & Maintenance
  • Food and Beverage Quality
  • Enjoyable Experience
  • Likelihood to Return
  • Likelihood to Recommend

…and many more.  In 2018, upon recognizing the increasing demand for data visualization, Amusement Advantage partnered with New Vue Solutions to create a new dashboard, using mystery shop data to summarize vital metrics.  This  allowed operators to quickly view their aggregate mystery shop scores across time and location, and then further analyze specific components of the evaluations based on their unique guest experience flow.  Further, it allowed operators to look at specific data points measured in their mystery shops aggregated over time.  Having this type of intelligence provides an answer to a burning question asked by many operators: what is our biggest issue that we need to fix right now?

Here is a sample of the dashboard:

Example: Mystery shop sections presented over time

Some specific examples of how Amusement Advantage clients have used the dashboard are to justify managerial decisions that are supported by the data provided.  This includes repositioning of labor to enhance the guest experience, reorganizing leadership over certain areas after observing trends in declining scores, and reinforcing training concepts with frontline staff after realizing urgent issues that negatively affect the business.

In this case, Stars and Strikes used the data from the dashboard to celebrate a high cleanliness standard publicly during a critical time when consumer confidence in sanitation is at risk.  Guests are developing a heightened concern for cleanliness, especially in environments that require touching items or objects that are handled by many others – a compulsory component of a bowling center.

As the attractions industry emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic along with the rest of the world, it is now more important than ever to reassure our guests that their health and safety is a primary concern in daily operations.  Having a high standard is not enough.  Every operator needs to measure how well their standard is being achieved, continually fine tune it, and keep measuring it to guarantee consistency.

By using this type of data, we will help ensure that when attractions can reopen their doors and gates, that guests will be eager to walk through them with confidence as to the cleanliness of the facility.

About Amusement Advantage, Inc.
Amusement Advantage, Inc. was founded in 1996 to provide mystery shopping services exclusively to the attractions industry.  Based in the greater Denver, CO area, the company works with attractions in the US and Canada, including amusement parks, water parks, FECs, zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums, bowling centers, trampoline parks, and other attractions.  Amusement Advantage is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, the Florida Attractions Association, the World Water Park Association, The Association of Science & Technology Centers, International Association of Trampoline Parks, and the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.  The company provides mystery shopping evaluations for IAAPA as part of the selection process for the Top FEC’s of the World Awards, is the exclusive Smart Buy provider for the Bowling Providers Association of America, and partners with the Florida Attractions Association and International Association of Trampoline Parks  to measure the compliance of each associations’ member.